How to contact us for advice

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Our advice service

We provide advice to parents, grandparents, relatives, friends and kinship carers who are involved with children’s services in England or need their help. We can help you understand processes and options when social workers or courts are making decisions about your child’s welfare.

Our advice service is free, independent and confidential.

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By phone or email

To speak to an adviser, please call our free and confidential advice line 0808 801 0366 (Monday to Friday 9.30am to 3pm, excluding Bank Holidays). Or you can ask us a question via email using our advice enquiry form.

Discuss on our forums

Our online advice forums are an anonymous space where parents and kinship carers (also known as family and friends carers) can get legal and practical advice, build a support network and learn from other people’s experiences.

Advice on our website

Our get help and advice section describes the processes that you and your family are likely to go through, so that you know what to expect. Our webchat service can help you find the information and advice on our website which will help you understand the law and your rights.

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Significant harm

This is the degree of harm a child must be suffering (or at risk of suffering) before children’s services may apply for a public law order.

If children’s services suspect a child has suffered or is likely to suffer significant harm, then they must by law carry out child protection enquiries.

Harm is defined in the Children Act 1989 as the ill-treatment of a child or the impairment of their health or development. This can include harm caused by seeing someone else being mistreated. For example by witnessing domestic abuse.

The phrase ‘significant harm’ was introduced by the Children Act 1989. The Act does not define ‘significant’. The question of whether or not harm is ‘significant’ relates to its impact on a child’s health or development. That child’s health and development should be compared to what would be expected for other children.

Physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and neglect are all categories of significant harm.

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